Northeast Georgia Health System will no longer require masks at most of its facilities for people who are fully vaccinated.
The hospital system won’t require employees, patients or visitors who’ve received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson shot, to wear masks on its hospital campuses, physicians group offices, Georgia Heart Institute offices and most other NGHS locations throughout the region.
“We’re really happy to take this step, but it’s not to say that we’re completely out of the woods,” Dr. John Delzell, incident commander for NGHS’ COVID-19 response, said in a press release Friday. “Safety is our top priority, so we may require universal masking for employees and visitors again if our area’s COVID-19 transmission levels increase in the future.”
Patients, visitors and employees of New Horizons, NGHS’ long-term care facilities, will still be required to wear masks despite their vaccination status, according to the press release, as well as employees treating patients believed to have contracted or have tested positive for COVID-19.
Individuals exhibiting symptoms of the virus inside the 10-day isolation window or those who’ve had close contact or exposure to someone with COVID-19 still must wear a mask at NGHS facilities.
Delzell described the policy change as a positive sign as the U.S. continues a gradual return to pre-pandemic era norms more than two years after the initial coronavirus outbreak in 2020.
“We’ve come a long way in knowing how to handle this virus,” Delzell said. “We’re pleased to make this change and get back to some sense of normalcy around the hospital. We know this is a step our community and our employees have been looking forward to for quite a while.”
The press release specifies that while waiting rooms at all locations have now become “fully open,” social distancing will continue to be “encouraged when possible.”
For more information, visit nghs.com/covid-19 to review all policies on COVID-19 and where to receive vaccinations.